Information, Meaning and Physics: The Intellectual Transformation of the English School of Information Theory during 1946-1956.

Science in Context (forthcoming)

Authors
Javier Anta
Universitat de Barcelona
Abstract
In this comparative historical analysis, we will analyze the intellectual tendency that emerged between 1946 and 1956 to take advantage of the popularity of communication theory to develop a kind of informational epistemology of statistical mechanics. We will argue that this tendency results from a historical confluence in the early 1950s of certain theoretical claims of the so-called English School of Information Theory, championed by authors such as Gabor (1956) or MacKay (1969), and the search to extend the profound success of Shannon's (1948) technical theory of sign transmission to the field of statistical thermal physics. As a paradigmatic example of this tendency, we will evaluate the intellectual work of Léon Brillouin (1956), who developed in the mid-fifties a information-theoretical approach to statistical mechanical physics based on a concept of information linked to the knowledge of the observer.
Keywords Information Theory  Claude Shannon  Leon Brillouin  Statistical Mechanics
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